Keble Confident of ProgressA special marquee goes up at Oxford this week for supporters of Keble, who, rightly, hope to see their college go head for the first time in Eights Week, after a spectacular rise from the bottom of the second division. If they succeed Keble will have made 23 bumps in 24 nights, with only two missed in six years' racing. At this moment, at the beginning of the week, their tally stands at 19 places in 20 nights, or, from their lowest ebb in 1954, 23 places in 32 nights.
This is not so uncommon as might be imagined. Queen's, twenty-first when racing was resumed after the war, climbed from twenty-second in 1951 to take the headship in 1957, 21 places in 25 nights. Merton achieved the same ascent in 34 days. St. John's, by contrast, who were sixth in 1946, managed to fall from eighth place in 1952 to twenty-fifth place in 1956, and to climb again to fourth place last year, a loss of 17 places in 21 nights, immediately followed by a gain of 21 places in 21 nights. In a total of 44 nights racing, St. John's rowed over only seven times, on five of which they were robbed, or saved, by bumps ahead or behind them. Lincoln, more leisurely, rose from twenty-seventh to eighth in 32 nights, and, after a slight relapse, rose again from thirteenth to third in 18 nights. They have the distinction, at present, of standing higher above their postwar starting position than anyone else.
To put these performances into perspective one must add that they are only possible to colleges which have also stood low on the river. At the other end of the scale, in the 84 days racing which have taken place since 1946 Magdalen have been placed in the first three boats on the river on 48 nights.
The main excitement this week lies in Keble's bid for the headship. With five Blues it should be within their compass, but they must bump every night. St. Edmund Hall, starting second, are thought to be just about fast enough to catch Christ Church. If they do it tonight then Keble will presumably be behind them on Saturday. If they gamble on waiting until Friday, and then bumping Christ Church before they themselves are caught by Keble they might rob Keble, and so snatch the headship themselves. This, at any rate, is the way the reasoning goes on the towpath.
St. Edmund Hall must improve — Magdalen's good start to the week.St. Edmund Hall never looked like catching Christ Church when Eights Week was begun at Oxford yesterday. It may be that their row was spoiled by uncertainty as to whether they really wanted to go ahead [sic] on the first night, with the threat of Keble behind them. But the one thing that is certain is that they will need to row much better than they did yesterday if they are even to get within striking distance. They were a full distance behind at the O.U.B.C. last night, and looked short and scrappy. Christ Church are rough, and perhaps a but sluggish, but with D. C. Spencer at stroke they will take quite a lot of catching over the second half of the course.
Keble made their bump on St. John's in 25 strokes, and with St. Edmund Hall's stock now at a discount their chances of gaining the headship must be much improved. Magdalen bumped Merton at the Stone, contrary to general expectation. Their second eight made an overbump in the third division, so they had a good day.
Trinity had the bad luck to foul their bung line, which caught in the rudder lines, and they were bumped by New College virtually without starting. However, New College, with two Blues, T. W. Tennent and P. A. V. Roff, would almost certainly have caught them in any case. Several crews in the lower divisions were balked by boats ahead which did not get out of the way after bumping or being bumped. The president, D. D. S. Skailes, announced after the second division that if there were further cases the guilty crews would be fined. It is, of course, absolutely essential in bumping races that crews shall not stop rowing when a bump is made, but carry on until they are well clear of the course.
Tense Moment in Summer Eights — Umpires uphold Christ Church denialThe second day of Summer Eights at Oxford brought a tense race when St. Edmund Hall made their second attempt to oust Christ Church at the head of the river. At the top of the Green Bank St. Edmund Hall were only a canvas down. Fifty yards from the finish the boats were overlapping and St. Edmund Hall claimed a bump. Christ Church denied it, and after two umpires at the finish had given their opinions, Christ Church retained their place at the head.
Keble continued to climb up the ladder when they caught Lincoln between Donnington Bridge and the Gut. For what may happen today it is significant that when Lincoln were bumped they had gained half a length on St. Edmund Hall. But, will Keble now force St. Edmund Hall into just the little extra speed, which will help them to bump Christ Church and so rob Keble of their chance?
Trouble behindIn the fourth, fifth and sixth divisions there was complete upset and all of it happened between the start and the Gut. St. Catherine's III had a stately progress at the top of the sixth with all the trouble behind them. Hertford II in the fifth division had the trouble all around them, and alone of the 13 crews, came through unscathed, and in the fourth divsion Oriel III, making their first appearance as sandwich boat after making their bump in the fifth division, had all the trouble in front of them.
After Balliol II had caught Lincoln II and Magdalen II had bumped St. John's II in the third division, Keble II, all out for adventure, had nothing left to go for except a double over bump on Wadham. At the start there was a gap of something like 200 yards between Wadham and Keble II, but at the finish Keble's brave effort had reduced it to three lengths or about 60 yards. Merton II also attempted a big task in going for an overbump on Queen's II and it was only by one foot that they failed to make it.
There was a tense battle at the top of the second division. At the University Boathouse Brasenose were only 6ft ahead of Hertford, who were struggling to keep away from Exeter. It must have been a great relief to Brasenose when Hertford shot their bolt and Exeter made their bump.
Keble remove last doubts — Christ Church home in lonely stateAt Oxford yesterday the weather was more reminiscent of what our fathers tell us it used to be like than we have come to expect of Eights Week these days. The crowd, for a night which was clearly destined to be the crisis of the week, was sparse, and, sartorially speaking, hardly did credit to the weather. But those who stayed away did not miss much.
Any doubt there might have been about the headship disappeared when Keble bumped St. Edmund Hall coming out of the Gut. Nothing bar an accident can rob them now. All that the spectators at the boathouses saw of the First Division, therefore, was Christ Church in lonely state at the head of the river, and Trinity desperately escaping from the attentions of the sandwich boat, Exeter at the tail end. Exeter were within 10ft at the University boathouse, and seemed to close up even more. But Trinity just got home. Balliol caught Lincoln after a stern chase at the top of the green bank. All the other First Division crews made their bumps, or were dispatched, long before this.
The Second Division was no more accommodating. Brasenose were just in sight on the green bank when Exeter caught them. The only real excitement was provided by Jesus and Hertford. At the pink post Hertford were well over towards the Berkshire [towpath] shore, and it seemed that Jesus, crossing from the green bank, had only to hold their course to strike them fairly amidships. Instead, the Jesus cox made an abortive shot below the O.U.B.C. and missed. His crew faltered, and although they rallied again their chance had gone. That is the way in bumping races.
Keble outstanding Eights crew — Headship taken for first timeIt was indeed a glorious first of June for spectators when Oxford University Eights Week ended on Saturday, with brilliant sun and a cooling breeze, and it was especially glorious for Keble. Christ Church put up a gallant fight, and so brought Keble.for the first time within sight of their supporters at the boathouses. But there could only be one end, and Keble duly made their bump near the pink post, their twenty-third in 24 nights of racing; and of course they took the headship for the first time.
St. Edmund Hall were the second fastest crew, though perhaps only marginally faster than Christ Church. They finished well ahead of Balliol, who were rather more than their distance in front of Lincoln.
So far as the spectators were concerned there was a magnificent race between Oriel and Magdalen. Magdalen, with only a quarter of a length to spare at the top of the green bank gradually drew away to finish over a length ahead. Unfortunately for them, however, Oriel had claimed a bump in the Gut, and the umpire decided that they had made it. This gave Oriel their fourth bump, but one must say that it was more by brute force than anything else.
In the second division, Exeter were well away at the top. Hertford came within feet of Brasenose at the O.U.B.C., but could not catch them. At the bottom of the divison, St. Edmund Hall II thought they had caught Pembroke at the crossing, and stopped rowing. A lot of other people thought so too, but not, apparently, Pembroke, who went on. One should say that St. Edmund Hall deserved to lose their bump for ignoring a first principle of bumping races — never to stop until the bump is beyond dispute, but in fact they started up again, nearly two lengths behind, and no doubt stimulated by righteous indignation, overhauled Pembroke as though they were standing still, and, to rub it in, made their bump opposite the Pembroke barge.
The general standard was not exciting, but probably as good as last year. Christ Church, St. Edmund Hall and Balliol were the best of the general bunch. Keble were outstanding. Success in the eights, of course, is no real criterion; and already the Jonahs are whispering that they would be made to enter for the Grand at Henley. Yet, in truth, it is hard to see what else they can do, with honour. Besides the coxswain, they have five Blues, three of whom have won the Boat Race, and one, G. V. Cooper, rowed in the Olympics in Rome before he gained his Blue.
Four of them have rowed in the final of the Ladies' Plate, two of them have won, all as boys at school. Four have won the Visitors' and one was twice a runner-up in the Princess Elizabeth Cup. The crew averages 13st. 1lb., and in strength, technique and experience they are giving nothing away to any crew in England at the moment. To succeed in the Grand they will need fitness and determination above what is usually found in University rowing. But with this opportunity it is surely for them to prove that they can rise to the occasion.
|B:||N. D. Tinne||11st 12lb|
|2:||A. W. Pengelly||11st 10lb|
|3:||R. C. T. Mead||13st 6lb|
|4:||G. V. Cooper||14st 3lb|
|5:||R. A. Morton-Maskell||14st|
|6:||D. S. D. Skailes||14st 10lb|
|7:||J. Leigh-Wood||12st 3lb|
|S:||N. C. Bonsor||13st 6lb|
|C:||C. M. Strong||9st|
Return to Bumps Index